CPI-M for a consensus candidate for top post


New Delhi : With the Uttar Pradesh elections giving a clear majority to Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) and its allies have a clear edge in the presidential election and Left parties would prefer a "consensus" on the candidate, the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) said Saturday.

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"Now UPA-Left has a clear edge over the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party)-led NDA (National Democratic Alliance) in the presidential election," CPI-M politburo member Sitaram Yechury told reporters after releasing the special edition of party mouthpiece 'People's Democracy' to commemorate the 150th year of the first war of independence in 1857.

Reiterating that his party would support a candidate with "impeccable" secular credentials, Yechury said the Left parties would meet Wednesday to discuss their candidate for the coming elections.

"It is not an election in which you should polarise the votes," Yechury said.

He said the Left had tried to evolve a consensus in favour of former president K.R. Narayanan when he was to retire in 2002. "But the (Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led) NDA (National Democratic Alliance) did not agree."

The Left had then fielded Captain Laxmi Sahgal against A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

"We hope we will not have to take such steps," Yehcury said.

Giving out the figures Yechury said that the UPA-Left combine needed 549,442 votes of the total 1.09 million to ensure its nominee's victory. The Congress had 280,000 while the share of its allies is 114,647 and the Left claimed 110,988 votes.

The communist leader also expressed hope that Uttar Pradesh arch rivals Samajwadi Party and BSP would support them to evolve a consensus over a common candidate.

Allaying apprehensions that BSP supreme and chief minister-designate Mayawati would only support a Dalit candidate, Yechury said, "One should not forget the BSP's poll campaign slogan was 'Haathi nahi Ganesh hai, Brahma Vishnu Mahesh hai' (Elephant, her party symbol, is not the elephant but the trinity of Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh)", indicating her party is for inclusion of all castes and classes.